No Filiopietism Allowed

NO FILIOPIETISM ALLOWED: The third annual Education Innovation Summit held at Arizona State University's SkySong campus has shaped up this year to be edtech's big conference. About 800 people, including more than 100 CEOs (ahem, 30 of whom are women), have converged for geysers of conversation. There are celebrities: Michael Milken, Jeb Bush, Reed Hastings--and who parked that tangerine Telsa smack outside the main building? ASU President Michael M. Crow urged attendees to aim for "massive change." He stacked up charts that showed that an American child born in the bottom economic quartile has only a 15% of earning a post-secondary degree. And 56 years ago, Crow was one of those kids. Excessively honoring tradition (filiopiety) won't give American students a chance to build great futures for themselves. "When people tell you massive change can't occur, they're fools," he declared. Summit organizer, Michael Moe, quoted Aristotle: "Inequality is the parent of revolution."

Betsy led a panel on personalization, in which Knewton's Jose Ferreira talked about how his firm will be collecting millions of data points on every student that uses Knewton's platform to study. Paul Freedman of Altius described how his company is trying to marry narrative stories to learning tasks to help students understand the relevance of what they're doing. Kaplan's polymath, Bror Saxberg, asked how many people had attended the American Educational Research Assocation conference--going on this week in Canada. (Answer: almost no one). Emily Dalton Smith of the Gates Foundation cautioned that even as we build better data tools that we should beware of pushing all students to a mediocre level of achievement.

All that was lacking at the Summit--more integrated involvement from educators. One who did attend was Chris Lehmann, who runs the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. Entrepreneurs may like to rush, he said, but teachers have good reason to take their time. "Sometimes teachers get burned. When companies whose tools we use go out of business, parents turn to us and say, 'What are you going to do about it?' Responsibility for students falls on us. Companies have got to be willing to work with us on that." Check out the website, watch some live stream, or follow the tweets at #EISummit.

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